McMurdo is a crazy place. The weirdest mix of liberal democracy, right leaning rules, science, technology, age, beauty, and disgust. The contractors down here work for 10 hours a day (with an hour of total breaks and lunch included), the Beakers (aka scientist) work longer depending on what science they are doing. So after sleeping 6-8 hours we are left with 8 to 10 hours of free time during the day. For some you’ve got gray market activities such as making and selling zipper pulls, or building opal jewelry, or being a masseuse, or even things like dorm cleaning to fill this free time. For most it’s taking time a the gym, or going on a hike, or bowling, or just hanging at the bars the girlfriend/boyfriend. For still others it’s filled with things like Monster Hunters which is a Playstation2 game that has consumed a few souls on station. Still most manage to be social or at least surrounded by people.
It’s rare that your not surrounded by other souls or near someone. We spend an amazing amount of our existence down on the ice interacting with people. For most that’s a good thing, as we are social creatures and the tactile touch of human interaction.
Think about this irony though, most are nine to ten thousand miles from where we live in something like the most remote place you’ll get on earth, with our only link to the rest of the world being a plane that shows up every other day and a satellite link which is similar to what the shuttle uses. A the same time, we don’t often walk out into the barren wilderness that surrounds us often because it is so barren and inhospitable. Many comment on the fact that Sundays (our day off) are for recapturing the beauty, solemnity, and peace of this place we exist in. Hiking the beautiful place that we exist in, or just enjoying the beauty we can see from our warm perches and slowing everything down.
Just thought I’d let you in on another part of McMurdo life.